Home Airlines The #1 Complaint About U.S. Airlines (It’s Not Delays Or Cancellations)

The #1 Complaint About U.S. Airlines (It’s Not Delays Or Cancellations)

by SharonKurheg

All around the world, the airline industry has been a mess for months. We’re heard lots of potential reasons – not enough pilots, flight attendants, air traffic controllers or ground staff, or maybe it’s just the weather. Whatever the case, the flying public has had to deal with crazy prices, endless queues, flights that take forever to take off (if they ever do), and lost and late luggage galore.

Some people just grin and bear whatever issue that’s handed to them. Others complain. Loudly. Sometimes to those who work for the airline, and sometimes it turns into a big ol’ “I’m gonna tell your parent” situation.

Enter the FAA.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the largest transportation agency of the U.S. government and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the country. They’re the government agency that accepts and keeps track of all those complaints (it’s easy to register a complaint – just click here). And, since our government is (granted, “supposedly”) transparent, they release a spreadsheet every month that explains all the complaints.

They’re always a month or two behind, so the most recent report was from May, 2022. Air travel consumer complaints for that month were 237% higher than the same period in 2019 (the last year we had “normal” air traffic), with 4,344 complaints, according to the most recent data. Still, that’s 14.5% lower than the 5,079 complaints logged in April, 2022.

The most frequent reason for passengers logging a complaint was (nope, not delays or cancellations) related to refunds. In fact, 30.5% of complaints in May were related to people trying to get refunds from airlines.

The #2 reason for complaints was, not surprisingly, scheduling issues. And yep, that would include cancellations and delays. No big surprise there.

Other (not so) fun facts from passenger complaints in May, compared to other times:

  • Lost & damaged bags: Airlines handled 42 million bags in May and had 516 mishandled bags (that’s a rate of 0.56%). That’s higher than the 0.55% that occurred in April, but was still lower than 0.63% that was seen in May 2019.
  • Wheelchairs & scooters: Wheelchairs and scooters won’t fit into planes’ cabins, so most passengers use them until they get to the end of the jetway, transfer to an aisle chair if necessary, and then gate check their own wheeled seat. Airlines checked 72,332 wheelchairs and scooters in May 2022. They mishandled 1,110, or 1.53% of them. That’s higher than the 1.46% they messed up in April, but lower than 1.54% in pre-pandemic May 2019.
  • Bumped passengers: Between January and March of 2022, U.S. carriers bumped 0.44 passengers per 10,000. They had only bumped 0.08 of passengers in the first quarter of 2021 (well duh…lots of people still weren’t flying yet), and 0.32 in the first quarter of 2019.
  • Long delays: In May, airlines reported 65 arrival or departure tarmac delays of more than three hours for domestic flights.  That was nearly double the 33 three-hour-or-more tarmac delays in April.
  • Cancellations: The airline cancellation rate for flights in May was 2%, which the same as May 2019. The airlines that had the highest cancellation rates were Delta (2.7%), United (2.4%) and JetBlue (2.3%).
  • On time arrivals: Only 77.2% of flights to U.S. airports arrived on time. In May, 2019, it was 77.9%.

Here‘s the report for May, 2022. If you want to see the May, 2019 report, click here.

Feature Photo: Pixabay

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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